Community invited to review schematic design and discuss elements for new park in Yesler neighborhood

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to a public meeting on Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at Yesler Community Center.  This is an opportunity for the community to review a preferred schematic design that reflects input gathered from the community. Parks will be leading a discussion about the design of new 1.7 acre park and gathering further input on park features.

This meeting is the next step in the design process and provides an opportunity for the community to discuss in more detail some of the park elements such as the play area and plaza.

Current Yesler Terrace residents have called the new park the “heart” of the community. The new park is part of the Yesler redevelopment and the park is intended to serve as a gathering place for current and future residents of the Yesler, First Hill and other surrounding neighborhoods. The  Parks and Green Spaces Levy allocates $3 million for planning, design and construction of the park and the Office of Arts and Culture will manage $130,000 art budget from 1% for the Arts program.

For each major development or renovation project, Seattle Parks and Recreation typically holds three meetings to ensure community involvement. The third and final meeting will be held in October. The Yesler Community Center has been a critical partner in gathering community input. Yesler Community Center is located at 917 E. Yesler Way, Seattle WA 98122.

The community is encouraged to be part of the process and provide input on the project.  Interpreters will be available for people who speak Somali, Vietnamese, Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya and Cantonese.

For more information about the project visit, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/yesler_terrace_park/ or http://parkways.seattle.gov/2014/04/30/design-team-changes-outreach-strategies-for-a-changing-community-in-yesler-terrace/  For special meeting accommodations please contact project planner, Pam Kliment, at pamela.kliment@seattle.gov or 684-7556. For questions about park project please contact Toby Ressler at toby.ressler@seattle.gov or 615-1482.

 

 

 

Design team changes outreach strategies for a changing community in Yesler Terrace

Monthly Vietnamese Senior Tea held at the Yesler Community Center, March 26, 2014.

 

When Seattle Parks and Recreation Project Manager Pamela Kliment began conducting outreach for a new park in Yesler Terrace, she had to rethink her outreach strategy. After presenting the project at three different Yesler Community Council meetings, she often found that there were only a few English speakers in attendance, and some community members couldn’t read in their own languages.

Shwu-jen Hwang and Frank Robinson are the designers for the project.  Both are Seattle Parks landscape architects.  Toby Ressler will be the project manager.  They are working as a team to make sure the park design will meet the community’s recreation and gathering needs, and be suitable for cultural traditions and future uses.

The team realized that if they were going to plan, design and build a park that reflected the people of Yesler Terrace and surrounding neighborhoods, they’d have to immerse themselves in those communities. During the last two months Kliment attended the First Hill Improvement Association Open House, and aided by interpreters, the monthly Vietnamese Senior Tea at the community center and an East African reading and singing event for children.

Reading and singing time sponsored by the Seattle Public Library held at the Yesler Community Center, April 9, 2014.

 

“Neighborhood discussions revealed that people will use the park to play games and to meet with friends,” Kliment said, “but we want to know the types of games they play in their cultures and the types of gathering areas they’d use. Do we put in benches and tables or have more open space? How close should these elements be to each other?  How can we add as much walking as possible?”

The design team faces a unique challenge because the park is part of the Yesler Terrace Redevelopment. Yesler Terrace is being redeveloped from a low-income housing development to a combination of low-income housing, market rate housing, offices and community spaces. All the existing housing will be demolished and the street grid will be altered.

The designers must try to satisfy current residents, future residents, business people, children, seniors and all of their diverse needs.

Yesler Terrace Community Council meeting April 15, 2014.

 

According to a report conducted by Seattle Housing Authority, African Americans/Africans and Asian Americans/Asians make up more than 80 percent of the Yesler Terrace population. Additionally, the disability rate in the community is nearly 50 percent higher than the overall Seattle population, meaning almost one in five residents is disabled.

“Yesler Park is the convergence point of many different cultures in a location that is close to downtown and is very connected to surrounding neighborhoods,” landscape architect Frank Robinson said.

In addition to attending already established events to do outreach, the Seattle Parks team sent out mailers in five languages and put up posters in the neighborhood inviting residents to attend three public meetings and give input on the park design. The first meeting was held in late April and the other two are scheduled for June 26 and Aug. 28 at the community center.

“Working with many different ethnic groups is very exciting and challenging, but we have found good ways to communicate with them and are very impressed with their level of engagement,” landscape architect Shwu-jen Hwang said.

The park will be 1.7 acres and will be adjacent to the Yesler Community Center on the west side. The 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy provides $3 million for the planning, design and construction of the park.

“The park is part of a changing community, and there are so many details to keep in mind,” Kliment said.